Eleanor writes on many topics, including parenting, single parenting, party and activity ideas, and career and home life.
Some people seem to have everything. This makes it really difficult to find a gift that you know they would really appreciate. Here is an extensive list of ideas if you are struggling to come up with a good gift for someone that is difficult to shop for.
What Not to Give the Person Who Has Everything
To begin with, let's think about what not to give someone who has everything. If you search Google to find the answer to your dilemma, you will find that you are faced with many lists of tacky, novelty gifts that are sure to disappoint your recipient. You are probably hoping to send a gift with a bit of class, so avoid those gimmicky offerings. If you don't want it, the recipient of your gift isn't likely to either. Consider the environmental impact of novelty gifts that are likely to be disposed of.
What Should You Give Them Instead?
Below is a list of 17 gift ideas for that difficult person who seems to have everything—every family has one!
1. A Pet Portrait
People love their pets. The bond between man and his loyal animal friend is a strong one. Many people would love a portrait of their beloved dog, cat, horse or whatever to take pride of place on the wall. There are plenty of artists who offer this service, and all you need to do is send a photo of the pet itself.
Bespoke art is not especially cheap, so if a pet portrait is too expensive, a photo canvas might fit the bill instead. Another option is a pet cushion or even a mug. These can usually be done in any good photo shop, or online at somewhere like Zazzle.
If you think obtaining your own photo of your gift recipient's pet will be too difficult, you might be able to get one from their social media instead.
2. A Vinyl Record
Nostalgia is a big thing and vinyl has been making a big comeback of late. The beauty of nostalgia isn't dependent on how much money or stuff you have already - it's about taking you back; transporting you and making you feel good.
For that someone who has everything (particularly those of a certain age), consider giving a gift of an old vinyl record that means something. Perhaps a record by an artist they used to love but no longer have, or a track or album that signifies a special moment or period. And remember, it's not just about the song (although that's obviously important) — it's about the smell; the motion of the vinyl spinning.
Of course, choosing the "right" record does depend on how well you know the person in question. Also, it's a good idea to ensure they actually have a turntable to play it on — many people don't these days. Basic retro-style turntables can be really reasonably priced, so depending on your budget you might be able to get one in addition to the record. My sons bought me an inexpensive model for my last birthday, so that I could once again play all my old records from the 80s. It's one of the best gifts I've received in ages.
3. Escape Game Voucher
I'll admit to being new to the "escape game" culture. I've only tried it once, but it was brilliant. If you are looking for that "something different" and the recipient has this kind of experience available within their locality, then I think it's the perfect gift for all ages — with the exception of young children and possibly those with mobility issues.
For those not in the know, you are locked with your group in a themed room for an hour. Your task is to escape the room using the clues and puzzles within that hour, otherwise you have failed the task. It's not scary — you can leave the room anytime at your request (though most people wouldn't feel the need to). It's just a lot of cryptic fun, often with some very unexpected surprises!
4. Something Collectable
If the recipient has a particular passion — anything from old cars to science fiction — you could give them a related collectable, such as a model car, etc. Collectables are often older, original examples — sometimes they can be quite sought after. My mother had two old Corgi car models that she had retrieved from my late Great Aunt's belongings — one was a Porsche and the other was a Vauxhall. She asked if my two sons would like one each. I knew it would be a disaster — of course, they both wanted the Porsche, not the Vauxhall, so I ended up keeping them both for safekeeping. A period of sneaking into my room and "stealing" the Porsche ensued - I would suddenly see it displayed on one of their shelves!
Where I live, there is a shop selling donated collections of old toys, such as Star Wars figures and accessories. For a die-hard Star Wars fan, this could make a great gift. My children's father has always been hugely disappointed that his mother gave all his original Star Wars toys to the dustman's children!
Other ideas include a minted coin — a half sovereign or a bullion will hold its value over the years. I gave one of my sons a gold bullion coin for his 18th birthday. He really likes it and it is something that he can keep forever. A coin commemorating a special occasion is a cheaper alternative.
Another totally different gift could be an antique of some kind.
This are just a few examples of collectables - your gift recipient may be passionate about something completely different.
5. A Ticket
A ticket to an event can be a really good idea. Our experiences in life enrich us and inspire us. Depending on the interests of the recipient, a ticket to a concert, exhibition, book reading, play or musical, comedy show, or sporting event could make a very welcome gift.
Even if you're not sure what they would prefer to see, you could give vouchers for the local theatre instead. Or perhaps tickets for a venue that can be used at the recipient's discretion — the Tate in London allows you to buy tour tickets for two, for which you can use for an exhibition of your choice.
6. An Experience
As already mentioned, it is arguably experiences, rather than possessions, that ultimately make our lives richer. Experience gifts are highly popular these days, and are very wide-ranging. You could gift your recipient a day as a zookeeper, a flying lesson, a chance to drive a supercar, a gourmet cooking lesson, a session in a recording studio, a trip in a hot air balloon, a museum pass, membership to an art gallery (such as the Tate, which has frequently changing exhibitions) a spa day, a massage, a painting class — the list is almost endless.
There are even experiences suitable for children - my son's ten-year-old friend just enjoyed an amazing gift of learning to drive a real car!
An experience is, perhaps, the perfect gift for that someone who doesn't actually want anything, and who definitely doesn't want more "things" cluttering up their home. It's also perhaps good to know that in the case of the recipient being less than enamoured over the gift experience chosen for them, it is usually possible to swap to something else (just be sure to check with the company before you buy).
7. A Tree
A tree, or large plant, can make the perfect gift for the right person if they have the space. In fact, many trees remain small and can be kept indefinitely in pots — I have a dwarf cherry tree which produces beautiful pink blossom in spring. It's probably best to choose something that doesn't grow too big and is relatively hardy in order to avoid future disappointment, but a tree is a lasting gift that can be admired over the years. One Christmas a friend of mine bought everyone a Magnolia tree — it's a great gift in terms of longevity (hopefully!) and it's kind to the planet as well. After all, trees are one of the few gifts that actually "give back" to the planet and benefit it.
If you are buying for someone who lives in an apartment without any outdoors space, then you could opt for an indoors plant instead, perhaps with a special pot.
8. Something Inspirational
You can't put a price on a gift of inspiration. Some things just change you inside, by stopping you in your tracks and making you think or feel differently.
Despite this article's title, no one truly has everything because we are all humans who are growing and evolving, Giving something inspirational, like a special book, can really change how someone feels. One of my favourite gifts ever given to me (I still have it around 20 years later, despite clearing out my bookshelves many times over) was a photographic book called 365 Buddhist Offerings. I'm not religious, but I see it as a template for everyday life. It's so uplifting and thought-provoking, and the photography, taken from around the world, is truly beautiful.
Of course, everyone's idea of inspiration is different, so use your knowledge of your gift recipient to choose the perfect inspirational gift for them.
9. Consumables and Products That Don't Last
Consumables can make great gifts for those people who really, really don't want anything tangible. It can be perfect since you are still gifting them with something and yet it won't last. I bought my dad a box of locally produced, unusual craft beers from a very small company. They were unique and different and you couldn't buy them in the supermarket. I'm pretty sure he would never have heard of them before. It solved the problem of what to give him last Christmas, since I didn't want to buy him something that he wouldn't really appreciate, just for the sake of it.
Of course, it doesn't have to be beer. Currently, flavoured gin is all the rage here, but you could also consider exclusive chocolates, or a hamper with locally produced products such as jams, chutneys and oils.
Alternatively, non-edible products that don't last but which make excellent gifts include body creams, shaving creams, luxurious bath oils and face masks.
Or what about a 'gardener's hamper' for the green fingered enthusiast? You could fill it with bulbs, seeds, new gardening gloves, pretty solar lighting, tools, an outside ornament and anything else that you think would be suitable.
10. A Quote Book or Memory Book
A quote book can make a lovely gift for someone close to you. It's in no way a last minute gift — I made one for my children's father (who lives away) and I spent about a year compiling it — but it's very unique and something that will only become more sentimentally valuable over the years.
To make my quote book, I just noted down those funny, often totally "out-there" and rather crazy remarks my children spontaneously made over the months, and then had them made into a printed book. I had to jot them down quickly, sometimes just using the notes in my phone if we were out somewhere so as not to forget! Looking back, it is hilarious,and definitely something my sons will also find entertaining to look back on! The funny things children say are otherwise often lost to us as they quickly fade from our memories — this is a way of keeping them alive in the future.
Here is an example of one of the quotes in my book, as said by my then seven-year-old son. He is sitting in the car on the way home:
"You know this thing, your kneecap? Well, I just realised it can fit in your eye socket."
Aside from a quote book, you could also make a "memory book", filled with photos or other memorabilia. This is the easier option if you need a gift more quickly. Or, you could produce a combination of the two. These gifts are most suitable for those you are closest to, such as parents or grandparents — or even for the child themselves, in years to come!
11. Something Connected With Their Hobby
If your gift recipient has a hobby, you could give a related gift. Depending on what they love to do, there are many ideas to consider. If they are really serious about their hobby, they probably already have much of the stuff they need for it, but there's often something you can give anyway. My son, for instance, loves football and has played for quite a few years, but there is never a time when he wouldn't gladly receive another football or new football boots. His thinking would be that you can never have enough!
I know someone who loves photography — he has a very expensive camera with lots of even more expensive lenses. Rather than give him something to do with the camera, we gave him a book of inspirational photography, containing all the tricks the photographers used to obtain the effects.
For someone who loves to knit, you could give a basket of quality, eye-catching wool.
Some sports and leisure clubs sell their own merchandise — my son was given a gift of a holdall from his karate club online shop, embroidered with the club logo and his own name. He uses it each session to transport his karate gi, hand pads, belt, membership card and other miscellaneous items that he might require. Despite being only 10, it was definitely one of his favourite (and most useful!) Christmas gifts.
Of course, those are just a few ideas out of an almost inexhaustible list.
Slippers always seem to end up on lists of boring, disappointing gifts that no one wants to receive — ever. I beg to differ. I love receiving slippers as gifts because I like them and they are actually useful. There's nothing better than arriving home on a cold afternoon and sliding your feet into something soft and cosy. What's more, no one can ever have too many pairs of slippers because slippers don't last.
In fact, in my experience the average pair of slippers lasts for a few months of heavy indoor wear before they start falling apart. Hence, every winter without fail I have to buy some new ones — and just to note, I never buy the cheapest slippers and yet it doesn't seem to make a whole lot of different to their life expectancy. I would be absolutely delighted with a new pair of slippers, regardless of whether or not I already have a pair. They'll always be put to good use, assuming they fit (slip in a gift receipt in case of sizing issues).
I actually put slippers on my Christmas list last year but no one bought me them and I had to buy my own!
You can get all sorts of slippers these days, for all kinds of people. Traditional, fun, boot-style — the choice is yours. The last pair I bought were lovely and fluffy inside with colourful poms poms on the top. I was just attracted to them, and they seem to have a sort of 'happy' feel about them!
13. Gloves and Scarves
Everything that I said about slippers also applies to gloves and scarves. Whilst they might last a bit longer, they still show signs of wear after a while. I'm always delighted with new ones — non-leather gloves (I don't wear leather) definitely stop looking their best fairly quickly, and you can change your look instantly with either a summer or winter scarf.
If you live in a climate that has a 'winter', these are essential items and certainly not boring. And even if you don't, a nice, printed scarf made out of light material can be very flattering.
When pressed to produce a Christmas list, I always add earrings. I have quite a lot of earrings already, but I'm still always delighted to receive more. I genuinely love putting on a new pair -—it's like getting a new outfit; after all, who wants to wear the same clothes every day?
Earrings are my fall back gift for certain people — like my sister — when I can't think of anything else. It doesn't always pay to be different — a quality, trusted gift is worth a lot and is very appreciated.
15. Something Signed
If the recipient of your gift has a favourite author with a new book out, you might be able to get your hands on a signed copy. If the author in question happens to be attending a book signing in your local area, you could also ask for a specific message to be written inside the cover.
Other signed gifts could include a ball, shirt or picture signed by a sports star — note that it could be difficult to obtain this yourself depending on your location and your ability to be in the right spot at the right time. In the UK there is a website called A1 Sporting Memorabilia, from which you can purchase signed items that come with a certificate of authenticity. It's important to be very careful when purchasing online, as there are many fakes, particularly on sites like eBay.
My son won a signed, framed picture of footballer Rio Ferdinand in a raffle last week at his end of year foobal celebrations and he was absolutely delighted with it. Some of the adults were also a little jealous and one asked to swap prizes!
16. A Photo Jigsaw
A photo jigsaw could make a great gift for a close friend or family member(s). You could use a photo you already have, of a previous family event or gathering, and get it made into a jigsaw puzzle (many photography shops offer this service). This could be especially suitable if you are looking for a gift for a couple or a whole family, giving them the chance to complete the puzzle together. If you don't have a suitable photo ready you could make an effort to take one in advance — just be sure to plan ahead to allow yourself time.
Other options could be to use a photo of the recipients beloved pets, a scenic holiday picture from a place they enjoyed visiting, or even a nostalgic photo from the past. This gift combines the sentimentality of a photo with a gift that requires active participation.
17. Something You Made
Giving a gift that you have made yourself means that it is truly personal and unique. Depending on your craft skills, options might be a woodcarving, something knitted, a glass painted object, a painting or drawing, jewellery or ceramics — but these are simply ideas; your own skills may lead to you making something entirely different.
The biggest tip here is probably to only make something if you are skilled enough — unless you are a small child, in which any effort will be gratefully received!
If you don't feel you are skilled enough, but you have an idea, then you can put your own, unique designs on products made by another company, such as Zazzle.
A Final Note
Just to reiterate — people who appear to have everything probably don't want those cheap, gaudy novelty gifts that are just trying to be clever and don't really have a point other than trying to be different. Most people don't care for them, at least not for any longer than the five minute novelty value they provide.
Also, bear in mind that no one really has everything. A gift is a symbol of appreciation for the person themselves; a thoughtful gesture that is bigger than the item.
I hope you have found some ideas!
© 2019 Eleanor's Words
Brian Solvesen on December 21, 2019:
I often ask for gift certificates from local butchers, or food marts.... The gift is not the food, but I invite my friends over for great dinners. The experience with friends is the gift. and sometimes everyone gets to try something new.